Candidate Q&A - U.S. Senate; Jim Talent

Sunday, November 3, 2002

1. What steps do you propose to spur the national economy and create jobs in Missouri?

Missouri lost 55,000 jobs last year -- the most in the country. I've traveled to Missouri's 114 counties and everywhere I go plants are closing and people are laid off or they're afraid of losing work. In Mexico, 80 people lost their jobs at the A.P. Green plant -- a plant that produces fire bricks for the steel industry. In the St. Louis-area a major auto assembly plant will be shut down costing 3,000 jobs. And this week it was announced that 150 people will be laid off at the Rawlings plant in Licking and that 750 employees of VF Jeanswear in Lebanon will lose their jobs.

We need jobs in Missouri and we need a Senate that understands how to help get people back to work.

As chairman of the Small Business Committee in the House I worked with both Republicans and Democrats to create jobs and provide tax relief for America's small business. Tax relief is a time-honored way of stimulating the economy and creating jobs. My opponent is against making the Bush tax cuts permanent including the death tax and the marriage penalty.

We can also create jobs and security for our families by exploring for oil in the Arctic. Why should we send $4 billion dollars a year to Saddam Hussein when we can explore for oil in an environmentally-sensitive way in Alaska. That would create more than 14,000 jobs in Missouri according to the labor unions. Mrs. Carnahan voted against exploring for oil in Alaska.

Missouri is a heavy defense state and I've said defense spending means security for our families and jobs for our workers. The president's defense increases alone could create and sustain about 150,000 jobs in Missouri over the next five years and I strongly support his proposals.

The current Senate should act immediately and pass the president's plan to create jobs and economic prosperity in Missouri and around the country.2. What measures would you endorse to avoid future corporate scandals?

Anyone who defrauds workers, investors or shareholders should go to jail. I supported the corporate responsibility legislation passed by Congress, but I believe the bill didn't go far enough.

We should treat corporate executives who commit fraud as we do drug dealers. When a drug dealer gets caught dealing drugs we seize the ill-gotten gains they accumulated with the drug money. For example, if a drug dealer buys a boat with drug dollars, we seize the boat. The same should be true if corporate executives are found guilty of defrauding people. That means if a corporate executive buys a house in Boca Raton with the money stolen from an employee pension fund, we seize the house in Boca Raton.

In addition, there should be mandatory minimum prison sentences for those guilty of committing corporate crimes. Currently, there's no real assurance that if corporate executives are found guilty that they'll actually serve hard time.3. What is your position on possible war with Iraq?

The removal of Saddam Hussein should be a priority of American foreign policy. I strongly support the president and believe he's shown tremendous leadership in the war on terror. Saddam Hussein is a tyrant who has invaded his neighbors, gassed his own people, sponsored worldwide terrorism and for years he's been trying to get a nuclear weapon of his own.

I served eight years on the Armed Services Committee and my record shows I've been willing to stand up for military readiness and increased defense funding even when it wasn't politically popular.

My opponent twice voted against missile defense and she recently voted to kill the president's homeland security plan. I would look forward to the opportunity to work with the president, not against him, if elected to the Senate.4. Describe your preferred plan for providing a prescription drug benefit to the elderly under Medicare?

Prescription drug coverage should be a basic part of Medicare and I want to go to the U.S. Senate and get this done for seniors once and for all.

I've proposed a compromise Medicare prescription drug plan I'm calling the Prescription Medicine NOW Plan that incorporates the best provisions from the Republican, Democrat and "tripartisan" prescription drug plans in the Congress. My plan includes immediate and permanent Medicare prescription drug coverage, a reasonable deductible, low monthly premiums, strong catastrophic coverage, provisions for low income seniors, protections for rural areas and family pharmacies and choice and access for seniors.

The Senate has failed to pass a prescription drug plan. My opponent supports Ted Kennedy's plan, which is neither immediate or permanent. The Kennedy-Carnahan plan rations brand-name drugs and would cost nearly $1 trillion, which would jeopardize Medicare and put at risk essential services for seniors.

I'll help get a Medicare prescription drug benefit passed for seniors if the people send me to the Senate.5. Do you favor allowing American workers to invest a portion of their Social Security withholding in private investment accounts?

I don't support privatizing Social Security and I will not support replacing part of Social Security with individual accounts or anything else. Retirement security depends upon keeping the commitments of Social Security. This was a commitment that the government made to seniors who kept their promises to us and the government has to keep this promise to seniors. We must protect the benefits that have been promised to current and future retirees. The first step in keeping this commitment is to make certain that all the money paid into Social Security is paid to current retirees or saved for future retirees, not spent on other programs.6. What is your position on farm subsidies?

First, we should recognize the incalculable value of family farms in America. Our farmers produce the safest, highest-quality and lowest-cost food supply in the world. In addition, the family farmers reflect the values of our nation, including respecting private property, holding confidence in the future and hard work. We must make the preservation and prosperity of family farms our top priority.

I am a strong supporter of increasing value-added opportunities for agricultural producers. The federal government must further the development of marketing cooperatives and the creation of networking opportunities for smaller producers, and invest in the new generation of cooperatives including plant construction and processing equipment costs. In addition, we must expand the tax incentives available to producers to invest in value-added enterprises.

I believe our farmers and ranchers are the best stewards of the land and I'm proud the Missouri Farm Bureau endorsed me. That's a big difference between me and Mrs. Carnahan, who has been endorsed by the Sierra Club.7. In one paragraph, why should someone vote for you rather than your opponents?

I've served 16 years in public life and I'm asking voters to compare my record with Mrs. Carnahan's, and I believe they will conclude that I'm the only one in the race with the experience to fight effectively on behalf of Missouri's jobs, health care, schools and national defense.

I'd appreciate the opportunity to continue working on these issues in the U.S. Senate if the voters send me there.

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